Bosnien-Herzegowina: Hatidza Mehmedovic

We are also returning to Srebrenica with the dead.

— Hatidza Mehmedovic

Hatidza Mehmedovic’s husband, two sons, and brothers were among those murdered when the United Nations protected city of Srebrenica was attacked by Serbs in 1995. She and other surviving mothers of the Srebrenica massacre encourage and motivate organizations and individuals to help the survivors. She works to establish the truth concerning the fate of the victims and tries to help the returnees to have a better life. While she encourages the reconciliation and cohabitation of Bosnians and Serbs, she knows this can only happen once the war criminals have been arrested and put on trial.

Until the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in 1992, Hatidza Mehmedovic peacefully lived with her family in a village near the town of Srebrenica in northeast Bosnia. After Serbian troops had burned down her village, Hatidza fled to Srebrenica with her family where over 40,000 other Bosnian Muslim refugees gathered. Hatidza lived among the desperate refugees, searching for food and comfort. After a three-month siege, the formerly rich mining town run out of electricity and drinking water. Many died from treatable wounds and infections. To prevent famine, the United Nations (UN) commander in Bosnia, Phillipe Morillon, delivered food by parachute. He and a small convoy of UN troops passed the Serbian front and entered Srebrenica to discuss the demilitarization of Srebrenica with Muslim leaders. The next day, Morillon was blockaded by a group of women and children as he prepared to leave Srebrenica. The leader was Hatidza who had become a symbol of resistance. She told the general, “If you can promise to fully secure the town, I will then allow you to leave!” General Morillon said, “You are under protection of the UN now. I will never leave you to suffer.” Morillon’s initiative led to the declaration of Srebrenica as “a securely protected zone under the UN.” Two years later, however, in July 1995, Srebrenica experienced the biggest mass killing in Europe since World War II, committed by Serbian troops under General Ratko Mladic. Together with her husband and sons, Hatidza Mehmedovic attempted to find safety in a nearby UN base along with more than 30,000 other people seeking protection from the Dutch troops. Hatidza and her family spent three days and nights in the open field. On 13 July, following the orders of Mladic, the Serbs began separating men from their women. To this day, Hatidza still does not know the fate of her sons, husband, and other male relatives.

Srebrenica Mothers